Happy Monday to yinz,
Losing weight is healthy. It’s really interesting how scaled weight has become this iconic health standard because, apparently so, if we are overweight then we are labeled unhealthy. We have freakin’ weight charts in every doctor’s office that communicate if you are this height then you should be this weight, otherwise something is wrong with you. This tiny little example of societal standards and manipulated norms is what actually screws people up. We are completely fine in the first place until professionals began shoving it down our throats that this is right, this is the way we should live when they completely fail to realize that life should be lived on an individualized basis and not by biased status quo studies that turn health into a math equation all-the-while manipulating the hell out of what it takes to be healthy for you.
Ranting aside, do you know what causes the body to gain weight? Do you know what causes YOUR body to gain weight? We all act/react differently to every single experience and we all store fat in different ways and in different places. A person can store fat if they’re depressed, if they’re angry, if they are exhausted, if they are awake for too long, if they drink too many protein shakes, if they apply a specific deodorant, if a street reminds them of a frightening experience AND a person can store fat in an area of the body that is specifically affected by emotions, grudges, regrets, or shames. Pretty neat, huh? All of this is very important to consider in our individual plight towards better health and it is my goal for today’s post.
In order to understand weight loss and the industry bullshit that surrounds the poor bastard, we need to understand the mechanisms/why’s in which the body can gain or lose weight. We’re up to our eyeballs in misinformation, marketing stunts, biased research studies, and a sheer lack of knowledge of how our bodies work. You want to be in touch with reality? Start with yourself. Because you and only you knows what is best… that is, if you take the time to learn and understand who you are and what you’re all about under a universal reality (no external/personal bias, conditions, judgements, etc.).
Now, for my favorite, over-used word… perspectives!
1) Get healthy to lose weight, don’t lose weight to get healthy – I love this quote, which can be accredited to Josh Rubin of East West Healing & Performance. Why is weight loss the goal when it’s really just a symptom of good health? Why is weight loss the goal when true weight loss, the natural progression and prolonged maintenance due to well-tailored/well-implemented metabolic shifts, cannot be achieved through a quick-fix program or beating yourself into the ground with popular work out dvds? I understand the need for goals or milestones along the way, but weight should not be health-basis-numero-uno. The weight will come off when the body is at a point where it doesn’t need it anymore. I will say that again, the weight will come off when the body is at a point where it doesn’t need it anymore.
2) The body stores fat for protection - Fat is literally a life saver and it’s more or less a result of the body doing damage control. Meaning, if there is a homeostatic imbalance due to some sort disruption – a caloric deficiency, a caloric surplus, too many of the wrong calories, malnutrition, over-exertion (exercise, work, school, relationships, family), lack of sleep, excess mental and physical stressors, environmental toxins/chemicals, emotional trauma, etc. – the body will most likely store fat as a protective reaction (I say most likely so I can note that not everyone reacts accordingly). We are all familiar with the relationship between fat and cholesterol, and that the body produces its own cholesterol, right? Well, an increase in cholesterol production is also a form of protection since cholesterol is actually one of our body’s most powerful anti-oxidants. We all hear that high cholesterol is bad and, while it can be a sort of warning sign, few fail to make the holistic connection as to why it’s elevated without pointing fingers at diet. Got stored fat? Consider what your body is protecting you from (and why you need to store fat). Fat also protects us from the cold! Hooray!
3) Scales mean jack - Because fat weight vs muscle weight vs water weight vs poop weight… DUH. All weight is not created equal and scale cannot differentiate between the three pounds you lost after pooping or the three pounds you lost from sweating your butt off in a sauna (only to be naturally regained by eating and drinking mineral water, respectively). Don’t forget that muscle weighs more than fat and if you are involved in some sort of physical training program with a caloric-sufficient diet, chances are you won’t see that scale budge even though you could be gaining muscle weight while losing fat weight. Our weight fluctuates on a daily basis and it is absolutely not an indicator of [good] health NOR progress. I hear people all the time proclaim, I lost ____ pounds this week! That’s cool and all, but what type of weight did you lose? Maybe that weight loss isn’t permanent and maybe it could be due to an unhealthy result (i.e. stress, suppressed appetite, depression, stimulants, dehydration, etc.). At a recent family party I had a person tell me that they recently lost 30+ pounds. When I asked And how do you feel?… I got… Well, I feel god-awful. *facepalm*
4) Are you even eating enough? - Consider this: the body needs [enough] energy to function. If I limit my daily caloric intake and, thus, deprive my body of the energy it takes to perform tasks at a high efficiency rate and in a timely manner, why the HECK would it think… hey, now is a good time to lose weight… ? Actually, HOW the heck would it have the energy to do such a high-energy-demanding task, which usually requires a higher metabolic rate? THIS is huge when people approach me about weight loss because I often find that they aren’t eating enough calories (any calories) throughout the day for their body to even consider losing weight on top of all the energy it takes to breathe, think, eat, drink, digest, detoxify, poop, pee, move, exercise, sleep, recharge, remember, be creative, and deal with life’s daily stressors. The body ain’t stupid. Having said that, I have had many-a-conversation lately with various peers of mine all umbrella-ing under one classic, underlying theme… People are dumb. I’d also like to point out that sleeping enough is also über important… also.
5) Diet is a factor, but your food education is, too – This is where misinformation comes into play. We’re taught that saturated fat, cholesterol, red meat, dairy, sugar, starch, salt, soda, and fruit juice (a.k.a. sugar water) are all bad for our health; they will make us SO fat and sick. Instead, we’re taught that unsaturated fats, vegetable/nut/seed oils, wheat, corn, soy, grains in general, copious amounts of vegetables, six to eight daily servings of fruit, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds are all healthy and will keep us lean. My response to that is… Who says so? The government? The medical system? Please tell me when was the last time you had my best interest at heart and also when it didn’t involve an industrial profit.
6) Intolerances, allergens, detox issues, poor digestion, malabsorption, deydration – First, I’m going to point some fingers at the over-saturated amount of chemicals and toxins that we are exposed to on a daily basis. We breathe, apply, and come in contact with this crap and it could be a big factor in our body protecting us with fat storage. The chemicals in your deodorant, in your makeup, in the air freshener, in car fumes, in your window cleaner, in your tissues, in your laundry detergent or fabric softener… you name it (actually, if you can’t read it) and it can probably affect your physiology in some way and it can greatly affect the detox system if it’s not already under distress. The same goes for food additives (the gums, the dyes, the non-pharmaceutical grade added vitamins). Then there are food intolerances that make your body think it’s in a war zone every day (this can also spur an auto-immune deficiency). Gluten, for instance, is one major food intolerance that can cause weight gain and people may just think that they need to run a few more miles each day and find out that they just gain more weight (probably due to a grand stress reaction). Which brings me to poor digestion and, thus, malabsorption. You can eat all of the healthy, leaning-out food you want, but if you cannot absorb said food it is possible that your body isn’t getting enough calories to meet its energy demands. Finally, dehydration… I’m hoping this is a no-brainer after reading through my alluding-theme perspectives. Spark that awareness!
7) Exercise smarter, not harder… or not at all – I started Crossfitting about a month ago. Within the first three weeks of going hard I noticed that I began to put weight on around my stomach. I added some muscle mass here and there but I was also adding fat. No, I wasn’t eating too much… I actually wasn’t eating enough to meet the demands I was putting on my body AND this started to affect my sleeping patterns… waking up in the middle of the night, restlessness, resulted dehydration, etc. I thought this was really cool in a weird science-nerd kind of way. I absolutely love the fact that I went through this because it gave me some more perspective into how MY body works, acts, and reacts at this point in my life. Sure, I could have probably done this type of workout and recovered with ease when I was 18 with the endless testosterone running through my body, but I’m not 18. I’m 27 and I’m not as active as I was almost a decade ago. And I say “or not at all” because I hate the stipulation that in order to lose weight exercise is necessary. Any intelligent personal trainer or health enthusiast will tell you that an exercise program will never outwork a poor diet. The diet will always be the foundation and exercise is a complementary component towards your specific goals. No, you don’t have to exercise to lose weight. It helps, but it’s not as important as the media makes it out to be (i.e. the biggest schmuck… I mean, loser). My solution will always be to go smarter by taking the time to sit back, rest, reflect, and look at the big picture of the why and how in respect to my body.
8) Emotions – What your choice of manifestation? Where are you storing yours?
Hopefully you can get the jist that there will never be a one-size-fits all solution nor will there ever be just one solution to a problem that really isn’t a problem at all. Fat storage is a symptom, a mechanism, a safety device, a warning sign, a smaller result of a much bigger picture. It’s not a reason to define yourself, to get down on yourself, to beat yourself up, or to think you’re not pretty enough, not handsome enough, or not fit enough. The body is trying to send you a message and only you can decipher its underlying cause. Don’t believe in the bullshit; believe in yourself.